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Re-Use of Air Waybill Number on Air Cargo Manifest

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Start Preamble


U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury.


Final rule.


This document amends the Customs Regulations pertaining to air commerce to provide that once an air waybill number is used on an air cargo manifest, one year must elapse before the same air waybill number may be used on another air cargo manifest. Current regulations prohibit the re-use of an air waybill number for three years after it is used on an air cargo manifest. This document also specifies that air cargo manifests must reference an 11-Start Printed Page 55721digit air waybill number for each air waybill it covers.


September 30, 2002.

Start Further Info


Mr. Robert Scholtens, Trade Programs, Office of Field Operations: (202) 927-3459.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information



The requirements for aircraft entry and entry documents are set forth in subpart E of part 122 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 122; § 122.41 et seq.). Under § 122.41 of the regulations (19 CFR 122.41), all commercial aircraft coming to the United States from a foreign area (with certain exceptions not relevant here) must make entry. Section 122.48 (19 CFR 122.48) provides that an air cargo manifest covering all cargo on board must be filed with the general declaration for any aircraft required to make entry under § 122.41. Section 122.48(c) pertains to the air cargo manifest form (Customs Form 7509) and the information it must contain which includes an air waybill number for each air waybill covered by the manifest. The number of air waybills covered by the manifest depends on the number of air waybills that are associated with the cargo on board. This number will vary from aircraft to aircraft, depending on the number of shipments on board (including consolidated shipments).

Thus, whenever a commercial aircraft arrives from a foreign place and makes entry as required under the regulations, it must submit to Customs a manifest containing the appropriate air waybill numbers. (See also 19 U.S.C. 1431, 1433, 1434, 1644, and 1644a pertaining to vessel and air cargo manifests.)

Section 4.7a(c)(2)(iii), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 4.7a(c)(2)(iii)), concerning vessel manifests provides that bills of lading must have unique identifier numbers, that the numbers must be listed on vessel manifests, and that the identifier numbers may not be duplicated within a 3-year period. Section 122.2, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 122.2), provides that, except as otherwise provided for in the Customs Regulations, the customs laws and regulations applicable to vessels are also applicable to aircraft. (Section 122.2 implements 19 U.S.C. 1644a(b)(1)(E), under which Customs is authorized, by regulation, to apply to civil aircraft the laws and regulations concerning the entry and clearance of vessels.) Air waybills in the air commerce environment are analogous to bills of lading in the vessel commerce environment. Because the time frame in which an air waybill identifying number may be duplicated is not otherwise provided for in the Customs Regulations, § 4.7a(c)(2)(iii), in conjunction with § 122.2, sets the time frame; once an air waybill number is used on an air cargo manifest, that number may not be duplicated within a 3-year period.

Customs reconsidered the three-year restriction on the re-use of air waybill numbers and, on March 1, 2002, Customs published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register (67 FR 9423) proposing that § 122.48(c), Customs Regulations, be amended to allow an air waybill number to be reused after only a one-year time period. In the NPRM, Customs explained that the change was being considered in conjunction with Customs efforts to improve its internal automated information systems relative to the tracking, archiving, and auditing of shipments by use of manifest numbers. Customs also noted that the huge volume of importations is affecting the availability of usable numbers for air cargo manifests. (The three-year restriction of § 4.7a(c)(2)(iii) on the re-use of bill of lading numbers was not proposed to be changed by this proposal.)

The NPRM also proposed to amend § 122.48(c) to specify that the air waybill number referenced on the air cargo manifest must be an 11-digit number. This number is based on a standard International Air Transport Association format.


The comment period set forth in the NPRM ended on April 30, 2002. Only one comment was received.

Comment: The comment recommended that Customs adjust its Automated Manifest System (AMS) programming to accommodate the proposed change for reuse of air waybill numbers from three years to one year.

Customs response: Customs is working on programing changes that will be operational by the time the amended regulation takes effect.


As the only comment received raised an issue that Customs is in the process of resolving, upon further consideration by Customs, this document adopts as final the amendments to the regulation that were proposed on March 1, 2002.

Executive Order 12866

This document does not meet the criteria for a “significant regulatory action” as specified in E.O. 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

Inasmuch as the amendment adopted in this document regarding the one-year time restriction on re-use of air waybill numbers represents a loosening of the restriction on importers' use of such numbers, it is certified, pursuant to the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), that this amendment to the Customs Regulations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, the amendment is not subject to the regulatory analysis or other requirements of 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604.

Drafting Information

The principal author of this document was Bill Conrad, Office of Regulations and Rulings, U.S. Customs Service. However, personnel from other offices contributed in its development.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 19 CFR Part 122

  • Air cargo
  • Air cargo manifest
  • Air carriers
  • Aircraft
  • Air transportation
  • Customs duties and inspection
  • Entry procedure
End List of Subjects

Amendments to the Regulations

Start Amendment Part

For the reasons stated in the preamble, part 122 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR part 122) is amended as follows:

End Amendment Part Start Part


End Part Start Amendment Part

1. The general authority citation for part 122 is revised to read as follows:

End Amendment Part Start Authority

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 19 U.S.C. 58b, 66, 1431, 1433, 1436, 1448, 1459, 1590, 1594, 1623, 1624, 1644, 1644a.

End Authority
* * * * *
Start Amendment Part

2. Section 122.48 is amended by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
Air cargo manifest.
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(c) Form. The air cargo manifest, Customs Form 7509, must contain all required information regarding all cargo on board the aircraft, except that a more complete description of the cargo shipped may be provided by attaching to the manifest copies of the air waybills covering the cargo on board, including, if a consolidated shipment, any house air waybills. When copies of air waybills are attached, the statement “Cargo as per air waybills attached” must appear on the manifest. The manifest must reference an 11-digit air waybill number for each air waybill it covers. The air waybill number must not be used by the issuer for another air Start Printed Page 55722waybill for a period of one year after issuance.

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Start Signature

Robert C. Bonner,

Commissioner of Customs.

Approved: August 27, 2002.

Timothy E. Skud,

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 02-22224 Filed 8-29-02; 8:45 am]